Fans right to boo us, says Bilic de­spite Sakho’s dra­matic win­ner

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Premier League - By Sam Dean

With West Ham strug­gling to string to­gether even the most ba­sic at­tack­ing move, it took lit­tle more than 20 ter­ri­ble min­utes for the first groans and jeers to tum­ble down from the stands of the London Sta­dium. In many ways, it was a sur­prise they did not start sooner.

Such was the total lack of spark or imag­i­na­tion in West Ham’s per­for­mance against a Swansea City side who are well or­gan­ised but se­verely lack­ing in at­tack­ing im­pe­tus.

Slaven Bilic’s team showed on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions last season just how adept they are at sap­ping the en­ergy out of their new home, and this was an­other chap­ter in a story that makes for par­tic­u­larly drab read­ing.

And yet, some­how, after 90 min­utes of suf­fer­ing, it was a tale that had a happy end­ing. Di­afra Sakho, the striker who tried to force a trans­fer in the sum­mer by going to Chelms­ford races rather than train­ing, emerged from the sub­sti­tutes’ bench to steal in at the back post and re­lieve some of the pres­sure on his be­lea­guered man­ager.

“The way we ap­proached the game was must-win,” Bilic said. “So we have done the job.”

But he added that his side “de­served to be booed”, and no one in claret and blue will be kid­ding them­selves that there was any hint of progress in this show­ing. Other than the goal, there was al­most nothing for the home fans to cheer. They even booed when Andy Car­roll was named man of the match.

“The fans want the best for the club and they are de­mand­ing,” Bilic added. “We did not play good in the first half. We were poor. It was not good enough.”

The London Sta­dium has seen this all be­fore, in­clud­ing the some­what for­tu­nate final score. It was life­less per­for­mances such as these that led to Bilic fac­ing ma­jor pres­sure this time last year.

It is surely not too much for the sup­port­ers to ex­pect their side to at­tack teams like Swansea at home. To have a go. Only in the dy­ing mo­ments did Bilic’s side re­ally threaten, with Car­roll strik­ing the wood­work be­fore Sakho popped up at the far post to prove he was the horse for this par­tic­u­lar course.

The match had started badly and, frankly, got worse. Both Michail An­to­nio and Car­roll scuffed half-chances, while Wil­fried Bony went clos­est for the vis­i­tors with a long-range drive that was fisted away by Joe Hart.

Tammy Abra­ham was non-ex­is­tent for Swansea, while even a mil­i­tary search party would have strug­gled to find Javier Her­nan­dez in the West Ham at­tack. Swansea did at least play the bet­ter football, but they have only scored three goals all season.

“The least we de­served to­day was a draw,” said man­ager Paul Cle­ment. “We have to cre­ate more chances and score some goals. We are not do­ing that at the mo­ment.” Still, they were head­ing for a de­served point be­fore West Ham sub­sti­tute Arthur Ma­suaku in­jected pace down the left and drove across for Sakho, the for­got­ten man who be­came the un­like­li­est of he­roes.

For­given: Di­afra Sakho won the game for West Ham after trying to force a move dur­ing the sum­mer

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